Pick: Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
NFL Football Week 1
When: Sunday, September 16th,
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium - Atlanta, Georgia
By: Bob Clark, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Spread: CAR +5.5 / ATL -5.5
Week two is among us and this Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia, we have one of the better games of the day. The 1-0 Carolina Panthers will travel down 75 South to take on the 0-1 Atlanta Falcons. This is an NFC South showdown that can potentially have huge playoff implications not only in the division but across the NFC as a whole.
As of today (Tuesday), most top bookies show Atlanta Falcons as 5.5 home favorites over the Panthers and the total points are set at 44 combined. The early money is on the Carolina Panthers, 64% of the public action to be exact, so look for this line to drop a point or two before kickoff on Sunday afternoon. I can see this game being one that comes down to the final moments. Carolina would love nothing more than to get a full two game lead over the Falcons and on the flip side, the Falcons NEED a win this weekend…this will be a good one.
CAN ATLANTA SCORE?! The Falcons appear to have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Even with the loss of safety, Keanu Neal, the Birds are still very good on D. In week one, they lost to the Eagles 18-12 in almost a mirror image of the game these two teams played in the Divisional Round of last year’s NFC Playoffs. Again, it was the Falcons defense holding Nick Foles and the Eagles in check but again it was the Falcons offense sputtering when inside the red zone. In some cases it wasn’t that they were held to field goals…they just flat out did not score. If Atlanta plans to make any sort of run come January, this has to be fixed ASAP.
Although the Falcons had a pretty good run last year, the problem all season long was red zone offense. Between the 20’s, the Falcons were amazing, but once inside the 20’s they died. All offseason long all we heard from head coach, Dan Quinn, and offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian talked about how red zone offense was their main focus…well…they should have worked more. Against the Eagles, the Falcons only scored 12 points all game although they had the ball inside the Eagles 20 I believe four times…maybe five. Either way it was ridiculous and if this continues for a couple more weeks, I would not be surprised to see the firing of Sarkisian and the promotion of Greg Knapp to the Falcons OC. Dan Quinn has proven that he has no problems letting weak links go when it comes to his football team, coaches included. Sark is on a short leash and the time is now to prove he is not in over his head.
CAN CAM BE SUPERMAN? Ever since Cam Newton was drafted first overall by the Carolina Panthers, the play of Cam has been the driving force behind the success of the Panthers. In week one, Cam Newton only passed for 161 yards against the Cowboys defense, but he did also add nearly another 60 yards on the ground with a score. The Panthers defense…or well the lack of Cowboys offense is what helped boost the Panthers to a 16-8 win. This week though, Newton and the Panthers will face a much tougher opponent. Although the Falcons have had their red zone issues, the offense is still very talented and they can move the ball. Also, the Falcons have an even more talented defense than the Panthers faced in week one. It will take a much better effort and Cam Newton will need to be “Superman” in order to pull the road upset and go 2-0 on the young season.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON SUNDAY? This game will be wild. Trust me. I can see some great defensive plays as well as some explosive gains by both teams. Cam will make plays, Julio will make plays, and I truly believe both teams defenses will force turnovers. This will be a good one! In the end I think the final score will sit somewhere in the mid 20s. As much as I like Atlanta as a fan and as talented as the Falcons are on paper, I just cannot give up almost six points in this one. If the line drops to three, I would jump all over Atlanta but if it stays anywhere from 4.5 or 5.5…nah…I’m good. I predict the Falcons win this game 27-23 on a late Devonte Freeman score from inside the five.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE THE CAROLINA PANTHERS +5.5 AGAINST THE ATLANTA FALCONS!